Friday, March 23, 2012

Wabi-sabi in the barn


I don’t need to travel to the South to see disarming old shacks about to fall down. I only have to cross the yard to our old cow house and barn that has been abandoned by cattle and any other kinds of domestic animals decades ago. Since then it has served as a workshop and storage for every imaginable type of junk accumulated by a number of dwellers on these premises that used to be a farm, and occasionally as a haven for pets such as our Jack and some birds visiting the attic every now and then.


The origin of many of the items in the cow house and barn is unknown to us but I’m afraid I am not entirely blameless for its present state of ‘confusion’, that is confusion in my husband’s words. What represents confusion to him is not necessarily at all distressing to me. I rather consider a slight disorder to express wabi-sabi, the beauty seen in the modest and humble things in all their imperfection, incompleteness and impermanence. Although the term comes from Japanese aesthetics, in the Western world it is often used to describe the kind of ‘perfection found in the imperfect’ so characteristic for French style.

Today I shovelled my way through the snow to the building and found that the daffodils I forgot to plant outside and therefore wintered there had started to shoot sprouts. I put them in the sun on the window niche of the south-facing corner room. It is too late for them to flourish by Easter but let’s hope they will continue growing there so that I can take them to the porch soon.


We tidied up the two small rooms at the sunny end of the barn last spring turning the corner one into my husband’s workshop. He painted the doors of the kitchen cupboards there over and over again. Our kitchen diner’s refurbishing is not entirely completed yet – it was put on hold for the winter season – but he certainly deserves an honorary mention for the patience with the 13 doors and 14 drawers and the unforgiving cream paint. I’ve already awarded him with a Moomintroll figurine carrying a paintbrush and pot, in my attempt to ensure that the DIY will continue in the wabi-sabi barn also this spring.


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